Jun 09 AT 9:00 PM Taylor Wimberly 26 Comments

T-Mobile Garminfone out today

Every Android phone in the U.S. features a built in GPS, but only one of them is made by Garmin. The smartphone that navigates your life is now available from T-Mobile. While the Garminfone might not have the most impressive specs, it’s the first to combine an Android-powered smartphone with a Garmin GPS navigation device.

For starters, the Garminfone is available for $449.99 at full price or $199.99 with 2-year contract (after a $50 mail in rebate). This places the Garminfone as the highest priced Android phone on T-Mobile, even above the new myTouch 3G Slide. However, it does come with a car mount kit, which includes a car charger, cradle, and dash mount.

Unfortunately, the Garminfone ships with last year’s Android 1.6 firmware. No announcements have been made about an Android 2.x upgrade and I would not hold my breath on one. I fully expect this phone will remain on Android 1.6, but I would love to be proven wrong.

The specs of the Garminfone are pretty standard for a mid-range Android phone. Powering the device is the 600 MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 (ARM11) paired with a 3.5 inch HVGA display, and 3 megapixel camera.

The major advantage of the Garminfone software is its on-board North American maps. This allows users to get directions anytime, whether in or out of cell phone coverage. The Garminfone also uses multiple overlapping positioning technologies (four different satellite signals) to ensure customers have one of the best location and navigation experiences a smartphone can offer. Other unique features include the Garmin Voice Studio app which allows users to record custom voice directions to share with family and friends.

I’ve never used the Garminfone, so there is no way I can recommend it. I’m quite happy with the free Google Maps Navigation and if I could only buy one Android phone from a T-Mobile store, it would be the new myTouch 3G Slide.

Is there anyone out there who wants this Android phone compared to the competition? Let me know if I’m missing the point. The GPS features are nice, but I would rather have a full fledged GPS device and not compromise my smartphone specs. On the other hand, T-Mobile has yet to offer a true high-end Android phone (1 GHz or above), so this is about as good as it gets.

Source: T-Mobile

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • geekster

    it’s a nice thought..but I will stick with my N1 with GooNav. I’ve watched a unboxing of this online and I noticed that the UI was heavily modded to Garmin’s taste. Which means, like Taylor said above, that future upgrades are probably not going to happen. I also noticed in the unboxing that the icon’s were rather large and highly visible. Which could be better for viewing and accessing the phones features while in the cradle and driving. From everything that I’ve seen on this phone it’s not that bad, but still not for me and a fair amount to pay for an obsolete OS….maybe more for my parents.

    • http://Website dlamont

      You CAN change the home screen on this phone.

      You can currently get this phone for $0.01 on Amazon

      Unlike other Android devices I’ve used, this one does not crash nearly as frequently (maybe they spent more time testing and haven’t caught up to 2.1 or 2.2 yet?) Actually, I have yet to see a serious issue where a hard reset is required.

      Build quality and physical device characteristics (aside from the stupid headphone jack) are superb.

      Call quality is acceptable.

      Battery life is acceptable to good

      In summary, this is a decent phone and the price is excellent. It may not be the most cutting-edge phone, but it is stable and after you spend some time with it, it really grows on you. As a person on the go, trying to manage a busy life, this phone does what I need it to and it gets me where I need to be.

  • krazytrixxxsta

    it crap like this that make me want to leave tmo … they need to step their game up, seriously.

    • http://Website Gomez

      T mobile has the nexus one.

  • http://Website ari-free

    Old OS. Small screen. come on…where’s the imagination?

  • http://Website maxomus

    Heh, just consider it a bad ass gps unit with a slew of features, surely doesn’t seem like a daily driver, ha, I take that back…it would be great for daily driving…

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Good point. Maybe we are looking at it wrong. It’s not a boring Android phone; it’s an awesome GPS (with Android).

      • http://inventurous.net Darren Doyle

        I agree… I don’t think you can look at this as a smart phone. You have to look at it as a GPS. My father-in-law would have loved this. He already has a Garmin that he and his wife love to travel with, he only uses his cell phone when he leaves the house anyway, and he just last week got text messaging (and he’s still trying to figure out how to use it). For him, this is one of those (to borrow a metaphor loosely) “killer apps” that would save him from having to grab two devices when he walks out the door (and when he leaves his car when out-and-about). In short (too late), it’s a Garmin that can also be your phone… they just happened to use Android as the OS (probably because it was the quickest, easiest, and cheapest solution to making a Garmin with cell phone capabilities).

  • themetatron

    can we just pretend this abomination never happened? even t mobile knows this phone is a flop in progress, like that other android abortion on at&t?

  • ayocuz

    Just cop you a nexus one and you’ll be good

  • http://Website fkillah

    I wonder if you could download maps of other countries? I’m traveling to Mexico this summer and it would be nice to have my phone drive me to my destination (not that I’m getting this phone).

  • http://Website Queen Laqueefa

    Might as well call this p.o.s. the Behold III.

  • http://Website Kyle

    Come on tmobile, get some really powerful android devices and show other carriers whos the real founding father of android!

  • http://Website joeskie

    One of the few things they are missing her is that this phone is a sleeper. Looks like a pos but it is not. The icons on the screen is the navigation section a stock android beast is waiting in the backround fot you to use. All home altering apps work well on it too.(openhome gde ff ph). Hat the also dint mention it that the phone has 4+ gigs of internal memory and a custom rom that let’s you install anything you want to the sd card. No bullshit there either. It really does that. And the navigation quality is out of this world. You can also instaall new map pacs from garmin.com. ..I farted.

  • http://Website William Furr

    That thing is fantastically expensive for an Android phone. Maybe it’s reasonably priced for a GPS unit with smartphone capabilities. Maybe if you’re the kind of person who had a dedicated GPS unit before, this makes sense.

    Not for me. I didn’t have a GPS before a smartphone, and I’m quite happy with Google Maps navigation. So when I look at it, I see yet another underpowered Android phone with a small screen and custom firmware. No thanks.

    I just want to be able to get upgrade pricing on something like the Nexus One and keep my family plan.

  • Donald

    A lot of you have to realize this is NOT A PHONE. Its a Garmin GPS with upgrades. Like Doyle said before this is mostly used for people that want just a GPS unit. There are plenty of people out there that travel and would love to have this to travel around with.

    I did a google search on and found this. http://www.pcworld.com/article/174744/google_navigation_is_cool_but_its_no_garminkiller.html

    Either way Tmobile is producing this phone since the majority of people that want to purchase a Garmin or TOM TOM they now have another option with perks. (Android)

    The majority of the people purchasing this would not know the difference (most cases) between 1.5, 1.6, or even 2.2 All they see is a GPS unit.

    On this one i would love to bash Tmo like the rest since i am also left in the dark with my Original MT3G but i cant. This unit is for a select group of people and i would say the majority here are not them.

    • http://Website Queen Laqueefa

      It sends a receives phone calls. IT’S A PHONE. A hideously overpriced phone with enhanced GPS features, but IT’S STILL A PHONE.

  • http://Website betto

    if this device (gps/phone) was root’ed, would it be possible to get garmin apk so we can use it in other android phones?

    • Alan Reboli

      I like where you’re heads at, but probably not. I would bet that much like the Sense UI, the Garmin.apk will require different frameworks and files for it to run properly. If and when the garmin.apk gets ripped, then we’ll have to figure out how to spoof the unlock codes to get the maps work properly.

  • http://Website Chad

    Ok my wife’s fone just arrived and as a previous IPhone user and new android user this phone kicks butt. You see the problem with android all along has been over custimization at the expense of useability. Navigation as in moving from screen to screen has really been cumbersome with my Cliq Titatium. This phone simplifies the UI to more of an IPhone like simplistic interface. Add on the large screen and navigation and I have to say this is the most usable Android phone on the maket.

    Mines being shipped by TMobile can’t wait.

  • http://Website Biff Boffwell

    I got my hands on one of these the other day at a seriously reduced price. Also picked up a hd2. Got a g1 the first day it came out.and a nexus one about a month ago. Love them all,g1 and n1 are both heavily modded,but I haven’t even looked at the hd2…this thing kicks ass on a serious level….easy to use.good memory,fairly quick….only downfall so far,no multitouch due to 1.6. Add that,and you have a seriously untouchable phone hands down.

  • http://www.writecircuit.com gasanders

    My family has three of these. Great dual navigation device, great phone, and with Open Home, not bad looking and certainly useful.

    We got the recent special pricing, too. So I can’t find anything bad to say about this one.


  • http://Website james

    so can this phone be rooted i have been researching mine and cant find anything on rooting it

  • http://Website Big Roc

    This Navigation is up to par real nice builds the 1.6 Droid sucks always freezing and crashing. Mad i purchase this crap

  • http://Website Notso

    I’ve played with a few of the android phones and this is by far the most user friendly. Garmin added some of its own upgrades so the fact that it runs 1.6 is irrelevant. As a general contractor I find this phone well worth 200 bucks. Its built solid and the garmin home screen is a lot more efficient than the lights and whistles of the other android os. I’d say the only failure was identifying the market and proper ad campaign. For all of you that hate it…. hello its a GARMIN device. You’re idiots for thinking it was your next media phone.

  • http://Website Lemmor

    Had the iphone for awhile and decided to switch to Garminfone(no contract, no dataplan=less cost over time). First of all, it’s an excellent GPS. People say they prefer all other mapping sources than the garminfone but what they don’t realize is that they will pay hefty for data usage. I was able to install other maps of Asia-Singapore, PI, and Mexico that I found on the web and used them overseas. Since Garminfone has a dedicated maps installed on the device, it doesn’t require a network to retrieve the maps from. Now if you use other map sources installed on cellphones overseas, you’re data plan will cost you dearly. When there’s no data service or out on highways during long drives, you’ll lose data service which in turn will lose the maps but on the garminfone, you’ll be able to keep navigating without dataplan and without network requirements. It’s a total plus. As far as the phone is concerned, everything works as expected-calendar, clock(alarm), browser, email, etc…the email does have some quirks, meaning-it’ll work well with gmail as you can archive inbox mail to subfolders but only in gmail. For yahoo mail users, this is not the case as you have to install an app to enable full utilization of yahoo mail, there’s a workaround(haven’t figured it out yet). I was able to sync itunes music, photos, videos using doubletwist but lyrics on music doesn’t display. The videos come out very clear as is the case for photos. As for taking pictures, the quality is well for 3mp photos but low light sucks as there is no cameraflash and it records video. It comes with car mount for navigating, 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor, car charger, home charger. Overall its an excellent GPS phone that does everything that I require it to do without the added cost of expensive dataplan, last time I checked, dataplan costs on iphone is up the roof-good luck with that. So if you want to save on monthly cost, have a dedicated GPS device, a cell phone all in one than garminfone is for you. If you want to spend alot of money on dataplan, limited usage of maps where network is available and expensive map usage with data overseas and spend alot more money than you have to then more power to you. As for me, I’m happy with the garminfone and the extra cash I save from not have a dataplan. By the way, the plans on Tmobile are alot cheaper and as far as cell coverage is concerned, I’ve never had any issues with dropped calls, nor has any of the 5 family members experienced any problems with cell coverage.